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A taste of the sweet life

Oooh so Mexican in France!

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Salsa!Last night's dinner menu...Mexican, my favorite!

Chips and salsa to start, uhuh - homemade salsas, of course: a roasted onion, tomato and pepper salsa, and one I found from a TV cook, finely chopped onions, peppers and garlic marinated for weeks in Lime Juice! Hot and very tasty. We went on to savor (with many tortillas on the side) a chipotle & tomato shrimp appetizer. On the lighter side, a fish fillet cooked with honey, white wine and pepitas (mail order - no outlets here) on a bed of purple tomatilla salsa: sided with roasted, marinated potato slices, bell peppers and onions slathered with fresh raw tomato sauce. We finished our meal with a Mexican chocolate bread pudding over sauteed apples - all served with local Minervois wine!

Thank goodness for return guests who adore my cuisine and allow me to try new things!

Food passions

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hand in tomatoesWhere does one go with this, where does one start? For many years, I traveled and lived abroad, shared my trials and tribulations, and enjoyed the learning of new cultures, new food, and new friends. Now that I am more settled, I am ready to write it all down, but don't know where to begin...Food seems to be the common seed!

My passion for food and cuisine begin before I was aware that it existed, the passion that is! I was cooking for friends on my 16th birthday, doing what I wanted to do on that special day, against their screams of you should be doing what you want on your birthday Natalie! It was a surprise to my very independent group of friends, as it was to me I might add.

I have since (almost 30 years later), come into my own regarding cuisine, spices and especially the infamous, Capiscum. In my earlier days, I had a nickname of the 'Garlic Queen' - then it turned into the 'Queen of Hot Peppers', there are even a few whispers of 'Chocolat in Azille' I've heard murmered. None-the-less, that is where I'll begin.

 

Wine in the Minervois - Domaine de Jouarres

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A new chapter in the Minervois wine series - a new domaine with great energy & enthusiasm in Azille's own hamlet.  Run by Nicolas & Vincent Cornus and their father, Jean: the Domaine de Jouarres.

Languedoc-Roussillon has so many wines to offer, so it is nice to see more & more young, up-and-coming wine-makers in the Minervois to really showcase our region with it's strengths & favours

 

Jean Cornus has been growing and harvesting his vineyards in Azille for years, however, all destined for the local cooperative.

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 A few years ago, Nicolas & Vincent, decided they wanted to try their hand in vinification & bottling their own wine.  So, Jean gave them 25 hectares with 3 different grapes varieties to produce about 10,000 bottles - syrah for the red, cabernet-franc for the rose and chardonnay for the white.

Today, they are on their second bottling, with the 2014 ready for tasting in only a few months' time.

Confident and very passionate, the boys happily share the vinification process and offer a very informational & friendly tasting.

 

domaine-jouarres-red-rosedomaine-jouarres-whiteAll 3 wines are young, light & fresh, better for drinking in our hot summer months, here in the South of France.

The Chardonnay is a dry, fruity white, fermented slightly under the average temp's, extracting more flavor with a slower vinification. Great for a chilled aperitif, raw oysters & lightly seasoned shellfish.

The rose, a Cabernet-Franc (mostly seen only in the Anjou), has buttery flavors that pare well with grilled chicken & pork or on its own, just chilled!  The very pale color is achieved with a quick pressing & a 'debourbage', eliminating the sediment.

Another mono-cepage, the Syrah, has a red-fruit nose and tastes of jam with licorice undertones, typical of the varietal. Again, vinified a bit cooler for a lighter, fresher taste, it compliments a nice grilled steak or slightly chilled to start a meal.

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With a clever label, the bottle takes on a fun note - a very original design, it plays into the family name, in French of course.  Cornus, is pronounce the same as Corps Nu, which means nude body!

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During your tasting with the brothers Cornus, you will also be invited to take a walk out to the vineyards and the 17th century aquaduct, built by the Canal du Midi's architect, Pierre-Paul Riquet.  Just beyond the hamlet, the ancient water viaduct runs from the canal, across the vineyards to Homps, and still provides water for the surrounding countryside.

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Domaine de Jouarres can be visited with a wine-tasting, vineyard tour, & a very warm welcome - just a phone call away! You'll feel very much at home with the boys Cornus.

Contact La Dolce Vita directly for more information and to book your tasting soon!

Wine in the Minervois - Massiac wines

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massiac-summer-cottageRemember last week, when I introduced Chateau Massiac and its passionate & creative owner, Bernard Boudouresques?

Well, there is so much more to say about him and his wines.

With approximately 20 hectares of vineyards, Bernard has chosen to plant the Azille side with his AOC vines due to the location, and the Rieux-Minervois side is IGP (pays d’oc) where he is able to plant more of what he prefers…

 

Bernard produces only a few different bottles, so he concentrates on the quality of the vines and their fruit.

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Massiac’s whites are expressed with single varietals sauvignon-blanc & viognier.

Her reds are created with Marselin (a crossbreed of Grenache & Cabernet where the flowers inter-marry giving a great structure for this climate), Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.

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The younger vines are irrigated when water fall doesn’t get above 250mm per year, but when it hits 450mm all is good at the domaine.  Bernard's Grenache vines are still quite young…but all the vines produce well at about 4,500-5,000 hecta-liters each year.   Bernard is respectful of organic production, however, he also wants to produce great wines, so he is thoughtful of chemicals used, and experiments with keeping the vines healthy using different herbs/grasses planted between the vines to see what works the best as a natural herbicide & pesticide.

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Enter into the cave & the wine-making process. Bernard has an older style cement barrel system for his reds. Each being numbered according to the hectoliters it holds, so that each vineyard can be vinified on it’s own and separate to be blended afterwards. The white is vinified in low metal tanks, making it easier to blend the ‘lys’ back into the fermenting wine.

Bernard exports up to 24,000 bottles, leaving us with only a few bottles to savour, but worth the sip! As the fermented wine will remain in the cuves for slightly over a year before being bottled in spring, we are offered 2012 bottles to taste.

massiac-viognier-glassThe Viognier is a pale yellow in color with specks of gold, and at 14.8% the high alcohol content gives it a slight sweetness. With a green edge the cooked apricot & peach fruit taste comes through making it a good match to buttery dishes, creamy cheeses & seafood – 8€ a bottle purchased directly from Bernard himself.

Massiac's Sauvignon-Blanc is clean, clear & light in color at 13.5% alcohol.  Bernard's Sauvignon is similar to a Bourdeaux Sauvignon-Blanc, and with low acidity is just enough to provide a crispness to this floral white wine. A great fruit palate tasting peaches, apples & a subtle tang of passion fruit makes a great match to asian cuisine and very ripe chèvre or camembert cheese - also 8€ a bottle at the domaine.

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The AOC Minervois is a deep ruby in color with 14% alcohol. Bernard’s blend on this year’s Minervois, is 80% Syrah 15% Carignan & 5% Mourvedre. A robust red with flavors of very ripe cassis, pepper & spice, with supple & ripe tannins pares well with tapenade & many local, Mediterranean dishes.

Bernard’s Sentinelle is an ‘export-only’ unfortunately, so no tasting available this year. And with passion he plays around with a late, naturally sweetened white he calls “Ambre” for aperitif & desserts as well.

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Wine in the Minervois - Chateau Massiac

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Here in the Minervois, we could talk about wines for years and still not touch upon them all, nor taste everything out there without falling down drunk (even if you spit) !

However, I can talk about what I know and what I've learned about those in my large neigborhood. So stay close and come visit our regional Chateaux with myself and Wendy Gedney on our local tours.massiac-vines-rainbow-domain

Close to home, literally, is Chateau Massiac. Between Azille & Rieux-Minervois – from bell tower to bell tower as Bernard Boudouresque explains it to me in his local French accent - are the limits of Domaine de Massiac sitting upon a ancient Mediterranean hill. Bernard purchased the Chateau in 1988, which was abandoned in spirit as the previous owner had all but forgotten the domaine and let it all go downhill…the vines, the basin, the equipment, the animals all in ruins.

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Over the last 25 years with Bernard's love & passion for the domaine, its earth & its fruit, he has turned vines into fertile, well-producing plants and is bottling the wine production rather than sselling loose production wine to large, local wineries.

He has come to understand the soil and all it’s properties using nature to his advantage. Bernard-Boudouresques

 

The soil is full of grés, a clay-limestone, which when the vines’ roots hit they spread outwards instead of growing deeper. This creates many challenges for a typical vineyard, at the same time there are also many advantages. The grés in Massiac’s land is not as hard as some and allows the soil to drain well, avoiding too much water around the roots. On the other hand, the vines are not as stable with the strong winds we have in the area, so they must be cut in a non-traditional fashion so that tying them to the wires allows the wind to flow easily through the rows, not taking them out of the ground.massiac-hand-gobalet-vines

 

 

 

The traditional goblet style of the vine has been turned into a 7 fingered open-hand with Bernard’s creative touch.

The hill where the grapes grow is also an advantage as the wind flows easily through the vines to keep them from becoming humid & the sun warms them during the day producing tastier and more aromatic grapes.

 

Next week I'll explain Bernard & Massiac's wine and vinification process with tastings detailed out to entice you to explore the domaine yourself - TO BE CONTINUED...a bientot!

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